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Convention experience ‘phenomenal,’ Larsen says

You had to be there to really appreciate the atmosphere when Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama gave his acceptance speech Thursday night in Denver.

So said Rick Larsen, the Second District congressman from Washington who was sitting with some 80,000 other Democrats at Invesco Field in Denver as Obama made his televised speech to cap the 2008 Democratic Convention.

Speaking to the News-Times by phone Friday morning, Larsen said, “It was a phenomenal experience.” The speech “left us wanting more, in a good way. First and foremost, he defined what change will mean.”

Larsen also approved of the candidate’s life history which was shown on the huge stadium screen and mentioned by Obama himself. Raised by a single mother who sometimes struggled financially, Larsen said Obama’s background is a typical American story today. “It’s an upbringing updated for the 21st century,” he said.

Larsen also commended Obama for taking the fight directly to the Republican nominee, John McCain. “He went right after him and really laid out the differences,” he said.

Obama’s name on the ticket should help all Democrats this November, including himself, Larsen said. “We’re all going to benefit from his presence,” he said. Larsen is facing Republican Rick Bart. In the recent primary election, Larsen received 54 percent of the vote to Bart’s 38 percent.

The big political news Friday was McCain’s announcement that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will be his vice presidential running mate.

Larsen contrasted that pick with Obama’s choice of long-time U.S. Senator Joe Biden.

“It was a terrible mistake,” Larsen said of McCain’s choice. “Who is this person? She’s not ready to take over,” should anything happen to McCain.

Mary Jane Aurdal, the Island County delegate to the Republican National Convention which starts Monday in Minneapolis, saw things differently.

In an email to the News-Times from Minnesota, Aurdal described the choice of Palin, 44, as “a great move by the ultimate silver fox!” She believes the young female governor will benefit McCain, 72, in his race against Obama, 47, and his 65-year-old male running mate.

“As a Republican woman, I have to say this will put a woman in the White House and turn Alaska red,” Aurdal said.

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